I hope none of you take the decision around luggage this seriously. However, this week I watched a whole new level of chaos that may just change the way I think about checking forever.
A family of four walked on the plane only minute before the door was to be shut. Mom, Dad, a 2 year old, and a toddler. Mom has three large bags in tow. Dad is carrying a large baby seat…and the toddler. They are of course, the last to board. There is no overhead bin space and two of the bags are too large to go under the seat. What a quandary for this family for sure. I am watching and thinking that I would never put myself in this position.
Where it gets more interesting is when the flight attendant told the mother they had to check the bags. I was instantly sympathetic for the family as the mother started crying explaining that two of the bags had urns in them with the remains of her mother. As I was in 1C, I got the direct eye contact and the guilt started pouring in. No one was moving, no one was saying anything…everything had just stopped except for the tears falling down the mother’s face.
So, I stood up, removed my bag and told the agent to please check my bag, making enough room for the 2 bags that contained fragile content not suited for checking. The guilt resided and I went back to playing backgammon as though nothing had happened.
After arriving to Boston, I was pleased to see my bag already on the belt as I walked through the doors. I had no wait, no inconvenience, and helped a fellow passenger on their journey.
Now the question…to check or not to check. My instinct after 13 years of traveling has always been to carry everything! I pack so well, I can fit 5 days of clothes in my carry-on and not even need to iron! (ok, well, maybe a little steaming in the hotel bathroom). After this experience, my thoughts were mainly around giving the space, I don’t really need, to someone who really does. I also started thinking about all the hassle associated with carrying this bag around for hours has on me.
There are so many inconveniences associate with carry-on bags. First, I am always rushing to the gate to make sure I get overhead space. I’m fighting with the bag when trying to find a place to eat dinner. The elevator is always so slow at the lounge, forcing me to carry my heavy bag up several flights of stairs. And half the time I’m on regional jets that make me gate side check anyway. Why on earth do we do this?
Let’s face it, carrying on your bag is the norm for those of us who travel weekly. I challenge you to try to check a couple times and share your experience. I would bet that you’ll find the entire flying experience from security to deplaning to be a lot more relaxing and who knows, maybe you made someone else’s day for that truly fragile, sentimental, or valuable item that just can’t go down below.